Monday, October 20, 2008

Night 19: May

All of us have chinks in our armor. Places left undefended by the system of filters we use to protect ourselves from the truth of our own squishy mortality. Most manifest as phobias or odd fixations we cannot really explain.

I have two. One is the idea of getting a catheter. The word alone has induced at least one near faint (I'm not kidding). The other involves my eyeballs. I think it began when I first saw the razor scene in Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou, though I can't be sure. There was a time not too long ago when I became obsessed with the idea of getting a paper cut on one of my eyes. I came very close to doing it myself several times, just to end the cycle of "what if." Nowadays, pretty much anything involving eyes makes me queasy. Lasik surgery. Contacts. Botfly larvae. (Don't click that link. Really. Don't do it.)

So when last night's selection opened with multiple close-ups of a little girl's lazy eye, I knew I was in for an hour and a half of discomfort and dismay. May is the story of a misfit, played with jawdropping perfection by Angela Bettis, who is ostracized as much by her ocular oddity as by the way her perfectionist mother teaches her to turn away and inward. May's only friend is a homemade doll that could teach the Saw manikin a thing or two about creepiness. As an adult, May has spent so long detached from the feedback loop of human companionship that her every word, every instinct, every mannerism is a study in weirdness. And yet, May has achieved a kind of equilibrium. She works at an animal hospital, performing disgusting procedures. She makes her own clothes. She keeps to herself. But when she decides to act upon her infatuation with a car mechanic (Jeremy Sisto, in a very good performance), May sets herself up for a classic breakdown.

But is May really a horror movie? It certainly ends as one. Of all nineteen films so far, May is the only one that kept me on edge and uneasy for its entire duration. The only one that evoked a verbal reaction (as in, "No! Fuck no! Please don't do that!"). And the only one that forced me to cover my eyes. For that alone it gets my recommendation.

Scorecard (out of ten skulls):
Scare Factor:

My psychological status:

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